Random Acts of Kindness

A segunda e melhor parte da entrevista com a Sara! Que mulher! Que coração! Que ser evoluído! Que sorte que eu tenho em me ter cruzado com ela! Obrigada, minha querida! Muitos beijinhos e muitas felicidades na tua missão!
Ah! E muitos parabéns, que hoje fazes anos!!
(1ª parte, aqui!)

Interview in English:
Please click here to read more:

1.    If you could change one thing in the world what would it be and why?
I would enhance eye contact among all sorts of people. Not eye contact as such (in which case I would have to start by myself since I am terrible at keeping eye contact) but more in a figuratively sense as a symbol of compassion, humility and respect for the differences existing among us all.
I meet too many narrow minded people who are impressively swift to judge other’s behavior without leaving room for seeing the situation in a wider perspective, i.e. the other’s perspective. We don’t have to agree with actions and belief of others but the least we can do is to make an effort to understand on what reasoning their decisions were made. That is from where we really learn things about one another and that is also where we can find heart for forgiveness, sympathy and who knows - peace. The latter might seem ignorant, and I am pessimistic enough to be convinced that the planet earth will never be a harmonized and peaceful place until the day it goes under. But we are here now, and we might as well make an attempt to go as far as possible, and for that we need to respect each other. -Especially for our differences.

2.    And if you could erase one thing in the world what would it be?
Regret. Not to confuse with remorse of course, which is a quality I hope most people possess. But I believe we need to be able to look ourselves in the eye, regardless of what decisions we have made in the past, things we have said and actions we have taken, and rather learn from it than regret it ever happened. Usually there is a reason for saying or acting like we do, and if we realize that wasn’t appropriate or that it didn’t express what we really meant, then we should try and change it next time and be happy that we got the opportunity to see things in a wider perspective. Regret narrows our perspectives. It locks us stuck to a position where we can move neither back nor forth, thus prevents progress and halts development of seeing how we can make things better.

3.    What can everybody do to make things better?
I am tempted to say that we need people to be more selfish, but I also realize that’s only half the truth. Selfishness is usually associated with a bad quality, and with pure egoism we won’t go anywhere. But I believe we all need to start with ourselves. Start with making ourselves happy first, because it is from there we have the best foundation for making our surroundings happy too.

I recently read some observations by a palliative nurse who concluded on the five most common regrets people faced when dying. While concluding that ‘health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it’ the most common regret of all was reported to be that of not having had the courage to live a life true to oneself instead of having lived the life others expected one to live.
It really appealed to me, as that was exactly what I was realizing was about to happen to myself one year and a half ago. Coming from a family with strong family based values and where the norm is to have a job to support a family and a quite material lifestyle, rather than to have a job because that is what gives personal contentment. The car, the apartment and the permanent job that gave me financial security was not my dream. But that was what I thought my dream should be, so I almost missed to realize that I myself was an important brick in building up other’s expectation to me. While redefining, or maybe in fact just defining for the first time in my life, what my dream really was, I learned that if following it made me happy, the expectations I thought my network had to me changed accordingly. Often the people around us don’t really expect something specific from us, as long as they can see we are happy with the life that we choose.
For the first time in my professional life, I feel like I am exactly where I should and want to be. And that is where I can make a difference; when I have my heart with me in what I do and when I allow myself to create my own happiness first.

It may be ironic to be working with populations who don’t even have the opportunity to ask themselves what they dream about, because the first and only question is how to bring food on the table, and at the same time preach that people should be selfish and that we are the masters of our own delight. But that just makes it so much more of an obligation to pursue personal happiness for the ones of us who have the privilege to enjoy such opportunities. When we are happy ourselves that might be where we have extra strength to look beyond and help others pursue their happiness. Or simply just help them to put food on the table.

How can you look into the eyes of a murderer, why does he deserve help to feel better, when his victims never will?
For a while I volunteered as a ‘visitor friend’ in a Danish high security prison, where the Danish Red Cross has the mandate to facilitate formal, anonymous friendships with those prisoners who might desire such relation. The only thing you will know about the person is his or her name. It is completely up to the prisoner (not) to tell about his or her past.
I had been there for only 10 minutes on my first visit, when it was clear that my new ‘friend’ told me how he brutally murdered his wife and two young children. Then he turned him self in, when he realized what he had done. Almost as if he had been in a trance while killing. It took him a few years before he actually remembered what had happened.

I figured he told me his story because he wanted to see if I would ever want to return after hearing it. I did. Every other week for about six months.

I, of course, do not in any way sympathize with his actions. And the only thing that made the visiting easy was his remorse. Never will I, or any other person who hasn’t reached such level of distance to one’s own norms while looking your evil inner in the eye, understand what he had to go through. But every time I visited him, and every time I still think of him, I try to imagine.

Sometimes good men do bad things. And it is so important to distinguish those two. It is such a fine balance, because I also believe that in a developed society like ours governed by the rule of law the population should also feel a sense of justice when something cruel happens to them. Of course we cannot let actions like brutal murders like this go unseen, but we have to understand that sometimes the murderer himself suffers just as much.

To keep using my so-called friend as an example, he experienced an immense loss. All parents I know agree that the greatest tragedy that could happen to them is to lose their children. He also lost his children, both of them. And the woman he loved as well. What makes his tragedy different is that he let himself get so physically stressed and emotionally unstable, without having the coping strategies to prevent the tragedy he then ultimately caused on his own family. And sometimes I was impressed that he still let himself be alive, because to live with the grief that I saw in his face must be the greatest punishment of all.

We, as a society and as fellow citizens and humans, have a responsible to not accept cruel actions such as rape, murder and violence (to name a few) and to help victims, survivors and relatives to move on. But we have just as much a responsibility to help the people who commit the actions we have identified as crimes, not because they should be praised, but because pure punishment doesn’t make better people. We see it again and again; people get locked up for years and when they’re released they have even less of an idea how to go about in the civil society and within soon they’ve committed another crime.

To start with I don’t believe that a person like ‘my friend’ would ever commit another crime, and probably hadn’t committed even minor offences before. But locking him up for one or two decades will not change that. I still think he should get his sentence, but I think while spending that time in prison we should give him the opportunity to change, to create a possibility for a life without having to live socially excluded where the risk that he end up in more or different criminality increases.

Sometimes we need to look behind the curtains to see that not all is black and white. We should all be obliged to try to understand other people and all the dark and bright colors that define them. That is when we can forgive them, even when we don’t agree with them. We need to see through the actions, and into the souls instead. We need to look for the potential: The potential for change, for improvements, for development. People tend to aim to live up to the expectations we have to each other. So let just those expectations be good. 

5 comentários:

  1. É muito bom saber que existem pessoas assim

    homem sem blogue

  2. uau... uma capacidade enorme de ver dentro dos outros! adorei

  3. Olá Bom dia.

    Posso partilhar a sua entrevista no meu blogue? Gostei muito da mensagem.

    Já agora: como é a que conheceu?


    1. Olá Marisa!

      Claro que sim! Como é que a conheci? Está na primeira parte da entrevista :) Através de um amigo que me disse 'tens de conhecer a Sara! Vais adorar!
      Se quiseres saber mais, envia-me um email.
      Um beijinho!

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